Frances Johnson sat in her lawn chair planted in the middle of a Southlake Town Square parking spot in front of Town Hall.The spot was blocked to traffic for the Carroll Homecoming pep rally and the Southlake resident wanted the best spot in the lot to see her granddaughter who was being introduced as a homecoming court nominee.As a carnival played out behind her, Johnson was content to soak in the weather and make sure she had the best view.“It’s marvelous in the shade,” the 83-year-old said. “It’s a perfect day.”A shared vision by the city and the Carroll Independent School District to increase community involvement by bringing the homecoming festivities back to Town Square seems to have paid off. On Wednesday, an estimated 4,500 Southlake Carroll Dragons, parents and members of the community gathered to celebrate the home game against Keller Central with a carnival, parade and pep rally.“The school district is the heart of our city,” Mayor John Terrell said from the balcony of Town Hall looking over a sea of people in green and white. “It is great to have the heart of our city in the facility heart of our city.”Attendance fell to about 2,000 over the last few years after the homecoming celebration was moved from Town Square to Dragon Stadium.Kevin O’Brien, a Carroll Senior High School senior and student council president, spent the day Wednesday setting up the event, which took over Rustin Park. The homecoming parade that was held later stretched from the park to beyond Harkins Theater.O’Brien said he was ecstatic to be part of the class bringing the tradition back to Town Square. He said the key was going beyond the school community and “letting everyone get involved.”More than 30 student groups hosted carnival games and booths in Rustin Park to raise funds for their organization. The basketball teams had a toddler-sized basketball hoop and ball, theatre club members walked around in full character to promote their November production of Les Misérables, and the girls soccer team sold tickets for a chance to kick a soccer ball at a row of its members’ behinds.A new club, the Carroll Clay Target team, had a dunk tank with an unlucky freshman inside waiting to get wet.Club president Cal Naughton said he liked having the event at Town Square because people from outside of the district who may have been shopping or eating dinner were able to participate.He said the money raised Wednesday night will be put in the club’s general fund and could be used to help get the club better established with basics like T-shirts, shooting vests, season fees or gun rentals.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dustindangli